Two things happened to me today that made me think about the future of music. Or rather two women happened.
The first woman that happened was the guest I had on my radio show today, the blues woman Kat Riggins. Kat is a small, black woman who has a voice that can fill a stadium and a songwriting and performance talent to match. And she is an activist for the blues with a worldwide clout, spreading her Blues Rival message to Europe, Asia and the US in sold-out tours.
And she spreads other messages – specifically that women have made their place in the blues and in music and it is long past time that the boys club of the music establishment get over it. She even produced an album called “In the Boys Club” in which she gently but pointedly chides the male blues establishment for not noticing the many, many blues women who are succeeding and who actually are in the club but the boys have not yet noticed. With songs like “Kitty Won’t Scratch” and “Girl in the Boys Club” she lets them know that the wall came down some time ago and you know what, it ain’t so bad.
The second woman was Shelly Peikin, the Grammy-nominated songwriter whose book Confessions of a Serial Songwriter I love and whose blog by the same name I follow. She sent me ( and lots of other people) email that alerted me to the remake of “Bitch”, the song she wrote with Meredith Brooks in 1997. Brooks recorded it and it went to number 2 on Billboard charts where it stayed for a month and eventually was nominated for two Grammys as Best Rock Song and Best Female Rock Performance.
Shelly has recently rerecorded it with producer Eve Nelson, reconceiving it as a gorgeous dark anthem, and it is fabulous. Her lyrics didn’t so much put a stake in the ground as tell the world of men that women are complex and wonderful creatures whose talent equals theirs but whose success does not threaten them; they are just fellow humans:
I’m a bitch/I’m a lover
I’m a child/I’m a mother
I’m a sinner/I’m a saint
And I do not feel ashamed
I’m your hell, I’m your dream
I’m nothing in between
You know you wouldn’t want it any other way
Kat tells us women are in the boys’ club of blues; Peikin tells us that women are in the boys’ club of humans. And both signal the emergence of women on stage, in the studios, on the road crews behind the boards, in the executive suites of music – not enough, but they are in the music club. And they are in it deep as guitarists, drummers, and horn players, bassists as well as singers and band leaders. The revolution is not just in blues; it is also ongoing in rock, metal, R&B, pop, DJs and electronica. And it looks like the Grammy’s are getting the message too.
Women are the major buyers of CD’s and largest segment of the streaming market. And women like to see women on the stage and hear them in their earbuds. It doesn’t mean they pushing men out; it means that they are expanding the music pie for everyone and making it better (after all, women also bake the most pies). Peikin and Riggins are only two of the many voices pointing out the obvious, the bitches are in the music club. And like the “Bitch” song says “You know you wouldn’t want it any other way.” I sure wouldn’t.
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